Today is a damp, cool, rainy September day and I’ve started my first fire for the season.
There is nothing more comforting than the heat from a wood stove warming your body, but when that heat is coming from a wood cookstove there are so many more benefits.
A wood fire warms you through and through and there is something very romantic, comforting, cozy, and peaceful that draws you to the flames emanating from a wood stove, chimneya, or fire pit!
I’ve always loved cooking and baking with a gas stove. A gas stove provides quick and even heat compared to an electric stove. It is hard to compare to food cooked on the open fire outside, but absolutely NOTHING indoors compares to cooking and baking on a wood cookstove.
I grew up with an amazing wood cookstove in our kitchen (it was big and glamorous with all the chrome), but it was only ever used to roast peanuts maybe once a year. It was more for looks. My grandparents had a wood cookstove in there canning kitchen, but by the time I came along it was no longer being used and was replaced by a gas stove that also shared the space.
Last year we built our 2nd off-grid homestead (you can binge watch our build on our YouTube channel here
) and this time rather than just a wood stove, we opted for a wood cookstove.
Wood cookstoves are not just a source of heat, but when paired with cast iron you will not find more amazing meals and baked goods.
On our previous homestead, I cooked and baked on just our wood stove. My baking was limited to what would fit in a cast iron dutch oven due to space limitations, but I had never used a wood cookstove. I wasn’t sure what to expect fully.
Well, let me tell you, I was pleasantly surprised to find it super easy, very comforting, and very gratifying. This was a good thing being we installed it two days before Thanksgiving and I got to test it out on Thanksgiving dinner. Talk about the family being Guinea Pigs. LOL
The stove top was completely covered in pots and the oven was full with desserts and meats. We always have a house full and that was an understatement in our tiny cabin of 12’ x 16’, but it was super cozy and very special to me!
Today, I’d like to share 7 benefits and tips to using a wood cookstove:
- A great item to have when the cost of propane and electric are on the rise if you have wood accessible on your property or near by.
- In a preparedness situation, whether short term or long term, a wood cookstove is something you can continue to find fuel for when propane and electric may not be available and you have a means to cook, bake, can, dehydrate, heat water, and purify water.
- Cooking and baking is simple and easy. Unlike conventional ovens, a cookstove typically has a fire box on one side of the oven and the heat rises and travels to the other side, but the side closest to the fire box is going to be the hottest so it is essential that you rotate your food in the oven so it bakes evenly.
- It is also essential to keep your fire going and maintain a steady heat throughout your cooking or baking time. Most of what we cook requires low heat and a long cook time so as the stove is heating our home throughout the day our meal is cooking, like a slow cooker if you will. Often times, we put our roasts on the stove the night before and allow it to cook all night and through the day. When dinner comes around we have a meal that melts in your mouth.
- Unlike an electric stove, a propane stove does require cleaning over the years and a wood cookstove requires cleaning every year. At the end of our winter season here in north Idaho, we clean out the stove of ash and dust and we clean the chimney so it is ready to use the next season without any effort. Taking care of your stove and stove pipe will allow them both to last for a long time.
- Dependent on the size of your wood cookstove you have such a larger area to cook and bake. I wasn’t sure of the exact dimensions of my oven, but I was pleasantly surprised to be able to have a roast pan (with the lid on) in the oven and still have room for desserts or bread to be baking!
- It is important to have your drafts open to get your fire started so that your smoke draws up the chimney, but once you get your fire started it is a good idea to close your drafts some or all the way to allow for a slow burn which will provide a nice steady heat. Otherwise, especially in our setting with only 192 square feet, you can easily heat yourself right out of your home. It is not uncommon for us to have windows open in the winter months even with a slow, steady heat which I actually enjoy because I don’t have to wait for spring to get some fresh air within!
I hope this was helpful information for you. My favorite thing to make in my oven is bread. Bread is a comfort food, there is nothing better than the smell of fresh bread permeating your home, and bread has been enjoyed from the beginning of time.
I thought I would share one of my favorite bread recipes with you today from our cookbook.
The Trayer Wilderness Bread
2 1/4 cups of warm water
2 pkgs active dry yeast (2 tbsp)
1 tbsp himalyan sea salt
1/3 cup organic sugar, sucanat, or honey
2 tbsp olive or avocado oil
6 cups organic flour
- Mix sugar, water, yeast, salt, and oil together and let sponge
- Add flour 2 cups at a time and mix well
- Knead dough well, cover, and let rise for about an hour
- Punch down dough, knead, divide dough into two loaf pans, and allow to rise again
- Heat oven to 350 degrees F and bake for 35 to 45 minutes.
Note: To covert this recipe to a gluten-free recipe, you will add the same amount of Better Batter Gluten-Free Flour or other gluten-free flour and replace the warm water with 4 1/2 cups. Keep in mind that your batter will not be kneadable and you will need to spoon your batter into the loaf pans. It will rise, but you do want to be careful that it does not rise too high because it will flop over the pan due to it’s consistency.
I have always enjoyed sitting by a wood fire with a cup of tea or coffee and just enjoy the moment. A good book and a piece of fresh bread or a baked good is also a nice addition.
I want to end this blog post with a reminder. Our family always thinks about the things we need in a preparedness or survival situation. Being able to keep your family warm, fed, and able to drink water are essentials along with a roof over your head. If you haven’t considered what you would do if there is not electric or propane, I want to urge you to do so.
Be safe, be healthy, be blessed!